Jonbon stamps Champion Chase claims

Nicky Henderson looks to have another serious Champion Chase contender on his hands following Jonbon's empathic success in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.

JONBON winning the Celebration Chase at Sandown in Esher, England.
JONBON winning the Celebration Chase at Sandown in Esher, England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

With his commanding victory at Prestbury Park this afternoon, the Nicky Henderson-trained charge made it six wins from seven runs over fences.

The son of Walk In The Park created a deep impression over hurdles before filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Constitution Hill in the Grade 1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

He kickstarted his career over fences in the perfect way with a commanding victory at Warwick before going on to land the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown in December. Jonbon since has taken out both the Grade 1 Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree and the Celebration Chase at Sandown, with his sole defeat over fences coming to El Fabiolo in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival last year.

As expected, Editeur Du Gite took the field along over the first few fences with the 4/9 market leader Jonbon tracking the Gary Moore-trained horse. Edwardstone and Nube Negra both bided their time in behind but as the pace began to lift, Jonbon soon took up the running with a flying leap at the open ditch.

Edwardstone [100/30] went off in hot pursuit of the Henderson-trained favourite but never really looked like bridging the gap and following a good jump at the last, Jonbon pulled nine and a half lengths clear at the line. 

Paddy Power make Jonbon as short as 1/4 to win the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown next month, while the same firm cut the Arkle runner-up to 5/2 from 5/1 for the Champion Chase back at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Winning jockey, Nico de Boinville said: "Yeah good fun,"

"It's hard work out there so the main plan was to let his jumping do most of the work and keep him rolling, let him enjoy himself.

"I was very impressed; it's always nice riding fast two milers around here, even in ground like that. I think round here to win those two-mile championship races you have to be able to stay a true two miles, even two and a half and I think he's a championship two miler really.

"He's just a very intelligent horse, very quick with his feet, he's so slick over his fences, he gets back down on the floor very fast. I always love those two milers around here, it's just great fun, there's nothing better really.

"I think he's got stronger, Paddy who rides him every day has been very, very happy with him. I wouldn't say that he was 100% ready for today, but this was a great start for the season ahead."

Henderson said: "They went a good gallop, and it wasn't a tactical race. It was a sensible, good honest gallop in that ground. It was going to find him out first time if he wasn't ready, but he was [ready]. You have to be very pleased. He was just pricking his ears on the run in and I could see those two great big ears lock on. He has had a nice time, and he has enjoyed himself. He should come on for it. 

"He had the race [in the bag] when he quickened off the bend as they were going to be pushed to get him from nerves. He has two away days at Windsor. He enjoyed that, although he got very sweaty that day. He went and had a walk around Newbury the other day before racing. He walked around one lap of the parade ring and was then out and home. It is all part of his preparation. Today he travelled well, and all the team are here today. Anything strange to him he goes help, but once he has done it once he is fine. He is not as bad as he was. Everyone was watching his first few runs thinking he had been through a snow drift.

"The only two times he has been beaten are around here once by Constitution Hill and then by El Fabiolo in the Arkle. It is good for him to come around here as hopefully he will come around here later in the season."

Henderson added: "At the back end of last season after the Arkle we were dying to try two and a half miles, but the two mile novices' race at Aintree was much the easier so we stayed at two miles then 13 days later he went to Sandown to take on the older boys to find out if he was a two miler against the second, third and fourth in the Champion Chase and he didn't wait for them. He looks like a two-miler there, and he has got to stay there for now because of the Tingle Creek. There is the conundrum as to how far he will get as I'm convinced; he will get further but you don't need to." 

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